January 12, 2010
An up-for-grabs State Department deal could help the infamous US ‘security’ contractor Blackwater stage a comeback as a leading security firm, reports say.
The contractor, which now operates under the name of ‘Xe Services LLC,’ may be awarded a one-billion-dollar contract by the US Department of State to train the Afghan national police force.
“There is a contracting process that is involved here and then the companies who are qualified to do it, to provide those particular services are free to do so,” said State Department spokesman, P J Crowly.
The security firm won notoriety for its killing of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in September 2007. The firm, led by a prominent Evangelical Christian and suspected of involvement in numerous assassinations and bombings in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, later changed its name to Xe Services LLC.
[efoods]Although some of its security guards were indicted for the mass murders, US District Judge Ricardo Urbina recently dropped all the charges, censuring the prosecution for ‘mishandling’ the evidence. Ricardo argued that the Blackwater guards were promised total immunity for their actions in Iraq by the US Government and therefore their testimony confirming the killings could not be legally used against them.
Two former Blackwater mercenaries have also been charged with the 2009 murdering of two Afghan civilians in Kabul.
Since the Iraq incident, Blackwater has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work, according to the Associated Press.
Reports say that the company’s operatives have also been providing logistical support at the US drone bases in Pakistan, used for missile attacks on the war-wrecked country’s border areas. The matter, confirmed by an unnamed CIA official and former Pakistani Intelligence Chief Asad Durani, is set to incite anger inside Pakistan which has reportedly lost hundreds of civilians to the operations.
“Blackwater has been literally getting away with murder for years,â€ť says Edward Spannaus of the US weekly newsmagazine Executive Intelligence Review, quoted by Press TV’s Colin Campbell. â€śA congressional investigation a couple of years ago found that there were about two hundred incidents in which Blackwater had opened fire in an unjustified manner.”
The State Department decided not to rehire the company after its contract expired in 2009, apparently acknowledging the massive international and domestic backlash against the firm. It, however, has been offered a temporary contract which would last another year until a new contractor is found.
The US military, however, relies heavily on the firms’ assistance on the ground. The Congressional Research Service reports that the contractors comprise of 53 percent of the Pentagon’s workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“People do not realize. When you talk about increasing the troop level by 40,000 in Afghanistan along with that is around 40-50,000 increase in private contractors,” notes Spannaus.
Meanwhile, the prominent leftist news magazine in the US, The Nation reported last month that despite vocal criticisms of Senators Obama and Clinton against the wide use of Blackwater guards by the Bush administration, the current President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are making an even wider use of the now ‘Xe Services LLC’ guards in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by awarding them numerous security contracts.